WINNER OF THE COSTA NOVEL AWARD: the acclaimed number one bestselling novel.
'A box of delights. Ingenious in construction, indefatigably entertaining, it grips the reader's imagination on the first page and never lets go. If you wish to be moved and astonished, read it. And if you want to give a dazzling present, buy it for your friends.' HILARY MANTEL, author of THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT
What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life's bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here she is at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
'There aren't enough breathless adjectives to describe Life After Life: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound. Wildly inventive, deeply felt. Hilarious. Humane. Simply put: it's one of the best novels I've read this century' GILLIAN FLYNN, number 1 bestselling author of Gone Girl, Sharp Objects and Dark Places
'Merging family saga with a fluid sense of time and an extraordinarily vivid sense of history at its most human level. A dizzying and dazzling tour de force' DAILY MAIL
'Absolutely brilliant...it reminded me a bit of her first book Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which is one of my most favourite books ever.' MARIAN KEYES, author of GROWN UPS
'Truly brilliant...Think of Audrey Niffenegger's The TimeTraveler's Wife or David Nicholl's One Day...[or] Martin Amis's Times Arrow.... This is a rare book that you want to start again the minute you have finished.' THE TIMES
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
One of our favourite novels of 2013 sees British writer Atkinson leaving her familiar niche of witty mysteries to tackle an ambitiously original novel about the many lives—and deaths—of her protagonist, Ursula Todd. Todd’s varying fates provide an outlet for Atkinson to explore 20th-century history and modern women’s experiences. Like a literary merry-go-round, Life After Life is dizzying but very fun.
Atkinson's new novel (after Started Early, Took My Dog) opens twice: first in Germany in 1930 with an English woman taking a shot at Hitler, then in England in 1910 when a baby arrives, stillborn. And then it opens again: still in 1910, still in England, but this time the baby lives. That baby is Ursula Todd, and as she grows up, she dies and lives repeatedly. Watching Atkinson bring Ursula into the world yet again initially feels like a not terribly interesting trick: we know authors have the power of life and death. But as Ursula and the century age, and war and epidemic and war come again, the fact of death, of "darkness," as Atkinson calls it, falling on cities and people now Ursula, now someone else, now Ursula again turns out to be central. At heart this is a war story; half the book is given over to Ursula's activities during WWII, and in its focus on the women and civilians usually overlooked or downplayed, it gives the Blitz its full measure of terror. By the end, which takes us back to that moment in 1930 and beyond, it's clear that Atkinson's not playing tricks; rather, through Ursula's many lives and the accretion of what T.S. Eliot called "visions and revisions," she's found an inventive way to make both the war's toll and the pull of alternate history, of darkness avoided or diminished, fresh.